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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LITERATURE UNDER MONGOLS      227
nevertheless obtained a good education and travelled all
over Persia. As already mentioned, he was among the
fortunate few who escaped death at Merv. His flight
across Northern Persia ended at Mosul, where in A.D. 1244
he completed his Mujam-ul-Buldan^ or "Dictionary of
Countries," This work has been made available to the
European student by the gifted Frenchman Barbier de
Meynard, and has been among my most valued books of
reference.
Nasir-u-Din, the Philosopher and Man of Science.—
Among the courtiers of the last Grand Master of the
Assassins was Nasir-u-Din, the famous philosopher of
Tus, who had been kidnapped to serve as his instructor
and adviser, and who persuaded his master" to surrender
to the Mongols. He was treated with much respect by
Hulagu Khan, over whom he exercised unbounded
influence, and it was chiefly his advice which induced the
Mongol Prince to undertake the final advance on Baghdad.
His range included religion, philosophy, mathematics,
physics, and astronomy, on which subjects he wrote at
great length, and one of his chief claims to fame is that
he persuaded Hulagu to found the celebrated observatory
at Maragha.
The Sufis or Mystics.—Among the most famous poets
of Persia were the mystics or Sufis, " Wearers of Wool,"
as they are termed, and this spirit of mysticism has per-
meated Persian literature and the Persian mind to a
remarkable extent.1 Its origin is hard to trace. Possibly
it is a modern form of ancient philosophies, more especi-
ally of Neo-Platonism and Manicheanism. Others hold
that it is a reaction of Aryanism against the formalism of
the Moslem religion, and, again, the philosophy of India
has been looked on as its fountain-head.
The true founder of the system is believed to have
been Abu Said ibn Abul Khayr, who was born in Khorasan
towards the end of the tenth century of our era. When
isked to explain his doctrine, he replied, " What thou
b.ast in thy head, i.e. thy ambitions, resign ; what thou
nearest in thy hand throw away ; and whatsoever cometh
1 Nizami and Attar, of the pre-Mongol period, were mystical poets.